Mohun Bagan Super Giant lifts maiden League Winners’ Shield by trouncing Mumbai City 2-1

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Mohun Bagan Super Giant won the ISL League Winners’ Shield

For the first time since the birth of the club, Mohun Bagan Super Giant won the prestigious Indian Super League’s League Winners’ Shield. In the last match of the 2023-24 season’s league stage, the Mariners defeated Mumbai City by a 2-1 margin at a jam-packed Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata. 

Liston Colaco and Jason Cummins were on the scoresheet for Mohun Bagan Super Giant while Lallianzuala Chhangte was the Islanders’ lone scorer.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant head coach Antonio Lopez Habas made a single change to the team that thrashed Bengaluru 4-0. The Spaniard chose to field an attacking lineup, considering a win was a must for his team handing Liston a start in place of Amandeep Bhan.

On the other hand, Mumbai City head coach Petr Kratky also made a change to his starting XI after a 2-1 win against Odisha, although this was a forced change. Vikram Partap Singh was unavailable for selection as he was serving his one-game suspension after accumulating four yellow cards and Bipin Singh was handed a start in his place.

The urgency was visible in the Mariners’ team as they wasted no time throwing the kitchen sink at the Islanders, taking only two minutes to create their first opening. Subhasish Bose played a superb diagonal ball for Manvir Singh, who beat his marker Akash Mishra and then Tiri before playing a pass for Dimitri Petratos. However, Rahul Bheke sniffed the danger and cleared the ball before the Australian could get to it.

The second chance came in the 20th minute and the Mariners nearly scored this time around. Receiving a pass from Anwar Ali, Anirudh Thapa floated in a diagonal cross which found Colaco, but the winger’s header struck the post. The rebound then fell for Abhishek Suryavanshi, who blasted his shot into the sky.

In the 27th minute, the Islanders tried to prove they did not come to Kolkata just to be visitors as they nearly took the lead in the game. Alberto Noguera tried his luck from a considerable distance but his attempt was parried away by Vishal Kaith. 

Only a few seconds later, Bipin launched a cross which should have been an easy grab for any goalkeeper, but Kaith made an absolute meal of it before making amends by catching the ball before it crossed the line.

It proved to be a crucial moment in the match as Mohun Bagan Super Giant scored in the next minute. Receiving a pass from Suryavanshi, Petratos found Colaco on the left flank with a delightful pass. The winger had a lot of players in blue ahead of him, but somehow he managed to thread a shot between Mehtab Singh and Apuia Ralte and find the back of the net.

Mumbai City woke up after conceding and had a good end to the half, where they should have found the equalizer. In the 37th minute, Chhangte played out a ball for Yoell van Nieff who struck a venomous shot, although Kaith was up to the task.

But the best chance of the match for the Islanders came in the 45th minute. Centre-back Hector Yuste’s attempted clearance went straight into Chhangte’s path, who instead found Jorge Pereyra Diaz but kept running towards the opponent’s box. 

The Argentine did his part by recycling the ball into Chhangte’s feet through the legs of Bose, but the Mizo winger could not keep his shot on van Nieff tried his luck from distance once again in additional time. But this time, he could not keep his shot on target.

The Islanders nearly found the equalizer just a few seconds after the resumption of the second half, as van Nieff found Bipin in a dangerous position. The winger hit a powerful shot which went past Kaith, but Yuste was placed in the right position and at the right place to avert the danger.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant’s first chance of the half came at the hour-mark when Joni Kauko found Armando Sadiku with the pass. Although the Albanian was a long way away from goal, he had space ahead and hence struck a shot, which was only a few inches away from the target.

The next few minutes saw Kratky’s men desperately hunt for a goal, but they did not come close. Instead, the next chance fell to the hosts in the 79th minute when Manvir threaded a pass for Thapa from the right flank, but the midfielder’s powerful shot was saved by Phurba Lachenpa.

Jason Cummings scored the Mariners’ second goal

The Mariners then doubled their advantage with a hammer blow in the 80th minute. Finding himself in space down the left flank, Petratos spread out a diagonal ball down the right side for fellow Australian Jason Cummings, who showed his class with a precise finish which found the back of the net through a helpless van Nieff and an outstretched Lachenpa.

The game had a late twist when Mumbai City rekindled their hopes by reducing the deficit in the 89th minute. From a corner, substitute Gurkirat Singh launched a cross which saw Apuia jumping highest, but he could not get a proper connection on his header. The ball somehow landed at Chhangte’s feet, who made amends for his previous miss by excellently slotting it past a diving Kaith.

It was fitting for a game of this magnitude to have a sending-off as well, as Brendan Hamill was given marching orders in additional time. Tussling with two Mumbai City players, the Australian central defender ended up kicking out at Apuia and was hence shown his second yellow card. But the Islanders could not make the numerical supremacy count and MBSG lifted their maiden League Winners’ Shield.

With this win, Mohun Bagan Super Giant finished at the top of the standings with 48 points from 22 matches. The Shield winners will face the winners of the match between Odisha and Kerala Blasters in the semi-final on 23rd April

On the other hand, Mumbai City finished second with 47 points from 22 matches and will be facing the winners of the match between Goa and Chennaiyin in the second semi-final on 24th April.